Really, Really, Really Good Chocolate
Shawn Orr snowboards in winter, surfs in the summer, and he’s made a career out of chocolate. Clearly, he’s going some good things going for him. The dark chocolate almond clusters offered as a standing add-on along side your AHO subscription boxes are Shawn’s doing. He’s not a farmer, but he fits the AHO mold.
“I would say I’m addicted to chocolate,” Shawn admits. “You should see my pantry, I eat more chocolate a day than you could imagine and I’m still not sick of it after four or five years.”
We found Shawn through one of our community hosts, Suzanne Polo, a registered dietitian and big fan of the nut clusters for their health benefits and taste.
“Candy is very different than chocolate,” Shawn said seriously, “If you can train your mind to enjoy something that’s exquisite, you only have to have a small piece of chocolate and you’re satisfied.”
He uses top of the line “food quality” organic ingredients in the recipes for his bon bons and truffles. The cacao he uses for the clusters comes from a single farm in Tanzania. The farmers are paid a good price (better than fair trade), and the chocolatier gets a super high quality bean to work with.
Shawn told us that only 2% of the cacao beans in the world are fit for artisan use, and having winnowed beans, grown organically from a single source enables him to create a chocolate product that retains more of the cacao’s health benefits, among them (without getting too lost in scientific jargon) are its super high antioxidant levels, muscle mass building properties (the bike shop people across the way are regular customers), and contributions to cardiovascular health. Combined with the almonds, you have a natural power bar, brain food that tastes as good as it actually is.
The name of Shawn and his sister Candace’s shop, Tifa Chocolate and Gelato in Agoura Hills, pays homage to their late uncle who encouraged them to find their passion in life and do it. He took the two traveling after they were both out of school, and while sitting at a European sidewalk café, they realized that Southern California would be better off with a dose of that euro-style café atmosphere and really, really, really good chocolate.
When they came back to the states, they got to studying, experimenting, and entrepreneuring. The end product is a shop where customers are called by name, and people sit with their lattes in ceramic mugs and sit and talk a long while.
Shawn makes the chocolate and Candace makes the gelato; their mom Denise can often be found aproned and smiling behind the counter.